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Field Guide to CMOs
Discover your role: Traditionalist or Technologist? Lifer or Firefighter? CMOs are playing these parts—and more—as marketing remakes itself
By Constantine von Hoffman, CMO Magazine
Genus: Chief Marketing Officer (Chief Marketus Officium). Habitat: Medium/large companies, with strong migratory patterns that result in frequent relocation. Identifying marks: Chameleon-like characteristics ranging from experience in advertising, branding, market research, event management, sponsorships, public relations, Web analytics, product development, technology, new media, sales support, call centers and customer satisfaction. Ability to prove ROI.
Did we miss anything? Probably. Today's chief marketer is an evolving species whose role is no longer just advertising campaigns, cool creative and media buys: It is expanding to include responsibility across the organization for driving innovation, competitive advantage and, ultimately, business success.
At the same time, different companies require very different qualities in a marketing chief. So while the CMO title continues to grow in popularity, the role itself is still being defined in the nation's boardrooms. In fact, a study conducted last year by the Association of National Advertisers and Booz Allen Hamilton found that more than 70 percent of respondents said the marketing function in their organization was being revamped or had been restructured in the past three years.
It's not easy to sink your teeth into a role that is still being written. "Of all the C-level positions, it's exponentially harder to place a marketer, even within the same industry," says Greg Welch, who heads the CMO practice for executive search firm Spencer Stuart. "He or she is going to a new company that almost certainly has a totally different point of view of what marketing does, what it affects, how it operates and what the metrics are."
In the C suite, the CMO's role remains the most amorphous—and often the shortest-lived. Spencer Stuart's research pegs the average CMO tenure at 24 months versus 44 for the CEO, 39 for the CFO and 36 for the CIO. From that brief tenure springs the corporate perception of marketers as short-timers, there just long enough to order an agency review, kick start a new branding campaign or begin a customer loyalty initiative before jumping—or being pushed—to the next job.
It wasn't always so. In the days before anyone really thought of marketing as a strategic function, there were basically two types of marketers: those who excelled at advertising and PR, and those whose talents lie in supporting the sales force. Both were there for the long haul. But as the profession has grown more complex, so too have the career paths and skill sets of today's top marketers.
"We have people who have worked at ad agencies and people who have moved over from other functions like strategic planning, sales and operations," says Dave Burwick, CMO and senior VP of Pepsi-Cola North America. Burwick himself took a more traditional route to becoming CMO: He worked his way up the ranks of the company where he has spent his entire career. His trajectory is still rising; this month, Burwick takes on a new role as president of Pepsi's QTG (Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade) Canada business.
But Burwick's career as a Lifer is just one template for success. Today's CMO encompasses a variety of archetypes, each molded by the economic, technological and sociological forces reshaping the business world in general and marketing in particular.
To illustrate these emerging archetypes, we've selected five CMOs: Burwick, Jim Speros of Ernst & Young, Global Hyatt's Tom O'Toole, Jacques Roizen of Alvarez & Marsal, and Kathleen Flaherty of AT&T Business. While each executive embodies an aspect of the roles described below, he or she also possesses other mission-critical skills and competencies.
The clamor for ROI has created the Traditionalist (Speros), who knows that you can't just measure your way to breakthrough products. All the "creative destruction" roiling companies—and the accompanying churn of talent—has re-emphasized the importance of the Lifer (Burwick), someone who has spent so much of his career at a company that its brand values are bred in his bones. Information technology's growing importance to the marketing function has spawned the Technologist (O'Toole), who straddles both disciplines. In a world where you're only as good as your last quarter, there is now the Firefighter (Roizen), a marketer with a talent for beating back the flames of corporate crisis. Finally, the organizational complexity of many corporations has produced what we call the Jane of All Trades (Flaherty), a chief marketer who understands the need to make corporate fiefdoms work together because her work experience spans various functions.
CMOs who personify these types also possess certain qualities in common: successful brand management and equity building; the ability to analyze customer insights and turn them into strategy; a knack for developing different initiatives, from broad-reach advertising to highly targeted direct marketing; a track record of new product development and great marketing communications skills; and an eye for ROI.
As our informal field guide shows, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all CMO. Some marketers will read our guide and feel they are looking in the mirror. Others may see only a glimpse of themselves. But everyone will see something new.
Source: CMO Magazine
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